Everything has been coming up Milhouse for the New York Rangers thus far in the postseason, with a perfect 5-0 record to start. The star players continue to make a difference, and the special teams remain red hot after almost a week of inactivity.

There’s a different vibe to the Rangers this postseason. Whether it’s as simple as the coaching staff and how they prepare the players, or that being a year older, there’s a little more experience, there’s something different about this team that was not there before.

Take Mika Zibanejad for example. This man has been a focal point for some in the fanbase for his lack of 5 on 5 production. So what does he do? He scores the opening goal at even strength before securing 3 total points in the Rangers 4-3 win in Game 1 over the Carolina Hurricanes.

No player on the Rangers has elevated himself to the standard that it takes to win and become a difference maker more than Mika Zibanejad this year. With 10 points now in 5 playoff games, game in and game out, he is delivering when the Rangers need him to deliver. The Rangers power play is one of their biggest weapons, and Mika added another on the powerplay before inexplicably passing on a natural hat trick chance.

Another player who has been massive these playoffs though he does not often end up on the scoresheet is Braden Schneider. Give the coaching staff a lot of credit, they made that swap with Jacob Trouba and it paid immediate dividends. There were quite a number of instances where Schneider would collect the puck, skate through the neutral zone, and make plays into the offensive zone. He is feeling it.

This one tweak has done wonders for balancing the Rangers defense and potentially eliminating a weak link. Each pairing has an offensive minded defender, and a more traditional defensive minded one with the ability to breakout the puck. It’s subtle, but it’s working and Schneider is the poster child for this improvement.

Of course the Rangers were masters of special teams again, going two-for-two on the powerplay and killing all of their penalties. For some reason that’s frowned upon by some people, but that’s a part of the game. Killing 5 penalties is no fluke, and neither is scoring on both powerplay chances.

The Hurricanes are a formidable opponent and should not be taken lightly by any means, but it did feel good to take Game 1 in a game that did not feel as close as the score indicated. If the Rangers continue to play like this, they will be near impossible to beat.


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